As I write this, it is early afternoon on January 8th, 2019. In about five hours (9 PM Eastern) President Trump will have commandeered the entire news broadcasting enterprise - ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN and even Fox and MSNBC - to speak to the nation about the manufactured “crisis” on the southern border. My public sources are guessing that he will invoke a “national emergency” power (citing earlier legal authority or not) and direct funds to be diverted from the Defense Department to construction of a steel wall. Scriber thinks (with concurrence by Judd Legum at popular.info) that the broadcast suckers the news networks into reporting fake news while trying not to report fake news. Thus the networks will be reporting Trump’s dishonesty and delusional ramblings in real time without fact checking. To quote Trump: “We’ll see what happens.” Below are amplifying snippets.
UPDATE (Jan. 9th, 2018, 6:30 AM: Trump did not, as I predicted, declare a “ national emergency” and did not raid the Defense Department’s resources. See the accompanying post this morning with full transcripts of Trump’s speech, Democratic and Republican responses to it, and fact-checking all of that.
John Cassidy of the New Yorker asks Is Donald Trump About to Declare a National Emergency at the Border? Robert Costa and Phillip Rucker of the Washington Post think so. They have predictions about what Trump will say tonight in his televised address. Trump aides lay foundation for emergency order to build wall, saying border is in ‘crisis’
Let me try to stitch these two sources together.
[Costa/.Rucker]: Trump administration officials made an urgent case Monday that the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border has reached a crisis level, laying the groundwork for President Trump to possibly declare a national emergency that would empower him to construct a border wall without congressional approval.
Cassidy: It seems increasingly likely … that Trump is going to use Tuesday night’s Oval Office address either to invoke an emergency, which would immediately plunge him into another legal and constitutional battle, or to formalize his threat to act if the Democrats don’t give in to his demands very quickly. Either way, he appears set to escalate the fight over the border wall in dramatic fashion …
[Costa/Rucker]:With the federal government partially shut down amid his stalemate with Congress, Trump will attempt to bolster the administration’s position Tuesday by delivering a prime-time televised address to the nation from the Oval Office — the first of his presidency. He will then travel Thursday to visit the nation’s southern border.
[Costa/Rucker]: Vexed by Democrats’ refusal to yield to his demand for $5.7 billion for wall funding, Trump increasingly views a national emergency declaration as a viable, if risky, way for him to build a portion of his long-promised barrier, according to senior administration officials.
[Costa/Rucker]: Although Trump has made “no decision” about a declaration, Pence said, lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office are working to determine the president’s options and prepare for any possible legal obstacles.
Cassidy: Democrats are already getting prepared. “We would certainly oppose any attempt by the President to make himself a king and a tyrant by saying that he can appropriate money without Congress,” Jerry Nadler, the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Monday, during a visit to a Customs and Border Protection Agency detention center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. “That is perhaps the most dangerous thing he is talking about since he became President.”
Cassidy: … he is surely aware where things are heading. “In a private meeting with aides at Camp David on Sunday, Mr. Trump said he wanted them to come up with a resolution without him appearing to have capitulated to Democrats,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The story added that “White House officials disputed that account and said the president didn’t make such a statement.”
Cassidy: Whether he did or he didn’t say such a thing, Trump clearly needs an exit strategy, and he may believe he has found one. On Twitter, Eric Columbus, a Washington lawyer with experience in the Obama Administration and with the Senate Judiciary Committee, pointed out that if Trump declares a national emergency, he might be able to obtain some money for his wall even as the matter is litigated, which would enable him to “re-open the government while saving face—and if he later loses in court he’ll have a new scapegoat.” As a description of Trump’s strategizing, this sounded plausible. We’ll find out on Tuesday night if he goes through with it.
“A mutiny in progress”
Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post) anticipates that An ‘emergency’ power grab would only add to Trump’s problems.
Of course, there is no emergency, or even a crisis. The building of a wall would have no effect whatsoever on asylum seekers who present themselves at the border (or the steel slats). There is little doubt that courts would intervene to halt his effort to displace Congress’s appropriation power. Trump would lose and possibly receive a tongue-lashing from one or more federal courts (as happened when he tried to unilaterally change the asylum rules).
That’s not the worst of it, however. He has blamed courts in the past when his unconstitutional schemes have failed. Worse for Trump is that it will do nothing to slow the mutiny in progress — and perhaps accelerate it.
The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a Democratic bill designed to fund the IRS and several other agencies, the first of four bills Democrats hope will peel off Trump’s GOP support in the House. … A senior House GOP aide said [House Minority Leader Kevin] McCarthy and his top lieutenants believe 15 to 25 Republicans will vote with Democrats this week, possibly even more.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will press ahead whether or not Trump declares an emergency. The prospect of a humiliating defeat, a rebuff from his own party, should frighten Trump. Once the aura of authority is pricked, Trump’s power over his party will deflate. From then on, he will find it hard to hold his troops in line for much of anything else.
Indeed, a power grab to supplant Congress might be just the thing to push Republicans in the Senate over the edge and to convince even normally sympathetic House Republicans that Trump has gone too far.
Trump has another problem: If he tries to divert $5 billion from the defense budget, he might see massive resistance and more resignations from top military officials. Trump, you should remember, is looking to abscond with precious resources dedicated to national security. His military will object; Democrats (and maybe some Republicans) will rightly claim that he is not fulfilling his obligations as commander in chief.
In short, Trump’s stubbornness and shortsightedness, his determination to play only to his base when he faces popular opposition, and a Democratic House under the leadership of a skilled politician (who simply tells Trump “no” over and over) might be his downfall. …